Across the Baltic sea in neighboring Finland nearly 300,000 people speak Swedish as their first language.
Having been part of the Swedish empire from 1249 until 1809, this led to a large group of the population along the coast speaking Swedish as their first language. Nowadays Finland has two official languages, although the usage of Swedish varies across the country. A person who speaks Swedish as their first language is called a Swedish-speaking Finn.
Although the Swedish spoken in Finland is similar to the one spoken in Sweden, Finnish has sneaked its way into the language. As a result there are several unique words that only Swedish-speaking Finns use. Sometimes, it may even feel like you’re speaking another language. These words are called finlandismer.
Below are a few Finland-Swedish words that you may find useful, although keep in mind that there are several dialects across the country that may use the words differently.
Sweden Swedish equivalent: papperskorg/soptunna
English meaning: trash/bin
One of the most famous Finnish Swedish words. Originating from the Finnish word for trash, it’s pronounced rÅskis, as the o is pronounced the Finnish way.
Sweden Swedish equivalent: grej/historia/inslag
English meaning: thing
A very flexible word that can be used to mean pretty much anything. A useful word to have on hand. You don’t know how to describe something? Just call it a juttu and that’ll keep the conversation flowing. Also originally a Finnish word, but very common among young Swedish-speaking Finns.
Sweden Swedish equivalent: stökigt
English meaning: messy
Although the origins of the word are unclear, this is a word that most likely originated from various Finnish Swedish dialects. Råddigt is used to describe something that is messy, like a room or a car.
Sweden Swedish equivalent: baksmälla
English meaning: hangover
If you’ve had a few too many drinks, you may experience some krabbis the following day. You can also use the word krapula to describe the banging headache you experience, although this is a word mainly used in the Helsinki region.
Sweden Swedish equivalent: jäkta
English meaning: rush
You’re running around, trying to find everything you need, struggling to take a break? A Swedish-speaking Finn may ask you to sluta håsa (stop rushing) and calm down. Another Finnish word that has managed to sneak its way into the Swedish language.
Sweden Swedish equivalent: naken/näck
English meaning: naked
The Emperor has no clothes, he is nakupelle. When a person isn’t wearing any clothes, they are nakupelle. Has several times been voted the best finlandism in existence by Swedish-speaking Finns.
Sweden Swedish equivalent: kul/trevlig
English meaning: nice/fun/exciting
Similar to juttu this word is very useful in everyday language. Also originally a Finnish word from the Northern parts of the country, kiva has managed to establish itself as one of the most common words in the Swedish language among young people in Finland. You will rarely hear older Swedish-speaking Finns use this word.
Useful in situations to keep the conversation going. Don’t know how to respond to someone? Just say kiva and that will be enough. Your intonation will show just how nice you think something is. Kiva!